Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/16/10 at 11:27 AM ET
from Lucas Aykroyd at IIHF.com,
A few years ago, this criticism was perfectly legitimate. At the annual World Championship, Russian blueliners would pinch at inopportune times, giving up odd-man rushes on a regular basis. In their own zone, they would attempt feeble pokechecks instead of taking the body, and woe betide the Russian netminder who failed to smother a rebound, as opposing forwards on elite teams would happily rush to the net and bang in loose pucks.
No wonder Russia suffered some mighty collapses in international hockey. The most notable instance was the embarrassing 11th-place finish on home ice at the 2000 IIHF World Championship in St. Petersburg. But the 10th-place outing in 2004, marked by legendary coach Viktor Tikhonov’s ill-fated comeback at age 73, wasn’t far behind in terms of lowlights.
However, this is 2010. The Russians have tightened up significantly on defence going back to 2005, when they captured bronze at the Worlds in Austria. The improvement has been particularly evident under coach Slava Bykov, who took over the reins for the 2007 Worlds in Moscow.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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